ESPN 1000 imports new boss from Boston

Mike Thomas

Although he's spent the last decade as program director of a sports/talk station in Boston, the new boss of ESPN Radio WMVP 1000-AM considers himself "a lifelong Chicago sports fan."

On Monday downstate Illinois native Mike Thomas was named market manager of ESPN 1000, where he will oversee sales, content and marketing strategy and execution for Chicago's No. 2 sports/talk outlet, starting in January.

Since September 29 the station has been under the management of Good Karma Brands, which took over day-to-day operations under a long-term local marketing agreement with ESPN.

ESPN Chicago 1000

“As a lifelong Chicago sports fan, this is a dream come true,” Thomas said in a statement. “It’s so exciting as ESPN 1000 Chicago has a great team, loyal advertising partners and passionate fans. This also gives me the opportunity to be close to my family and work with a company who, like me, has Midwest roots and a passion for sports."

Thomas has headed programming at Boston's WBZ, the award-winning station known as The Sports Hub, since 2009. Before launching the format for CBS Radio (and successor Beasley Media Group) he worked as a program director for stations owned by Jacor, Clear Channel, Saga Communications and Mid-West Family Broadcasting.

As vice president of sports programming for CBS Radio, Thomas oversaw the company’s 18 sports stations. He also served as vice president of programming for the company's five stations in Boston.

His career has taken him from Springfield, Illinois to Dayton, Ohio, to Indianapolis, San Diego and Boston. Chicago will be his first job as a market manager.

Radio runs in the family for Thomas. His brother, Bruce Gilbert, is senior vice president of sports for Cumulus Media and Westwood One. Their sister, Becky Peutz, hosts afternoons on WIQI, a classic rock station in Watseka, Illinois. Their father, Gary Voss, was a radio news reporter, anchor, on-air talent, play-by-play announcer, sales manager and radio station owner for more than five decades.

Thomas will succeed Jim Pastor, who is retiring at the end of the year as vice president and general manager of ESPN 1000. Pastor has spent 15 years with ESPN and more than 27 years with its parent company, Walt Disney Co.

Craig Karmazin, founder and CEO of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin-based Good Karma Brands, said in a statement: “We’re thrilled to welcome Mike Thomas to the team. He is the epitome of best-in-class, and his expertise, passion for Chicago sports and sports-radio experience will elevate what already is a powerhouse brand.”

No other personnel changes were announced Monday. Adam Delevitt, a 21-year veteran of the station, continues as senior program director of ESPN 1000.

In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, ESPN 1000 ranked 23rd with a 1.6 percent audience share. Its main competitor, Entercom sports/talk WSCR 670-AM, ranked fifth with a 4.3 share.

Monday’s comment of the day: Matt Wakely: I never seem to remember . . . do we set the Doomsday Clock ahead or back an hour in the fall?